Ag shame, Justin and Kim

If you had a quickie with Justin Bieber backstage, wouldn't you keep quiet about it? Shame, people seem to have lost all sense of shame, says Susan Erasmus.

It's one thing learning from your mistakes and changing your ways and quite another proudly making public announcements as if you have in fact achieved something of note.

The main question should probably be whether any publicity is good publicity in our fame-crazed world. (Clearly, yes.) And secondly, whether there is something like too high a personal price to pay for this fame.

I think there is. If you have any shame whatsoever left, that is. But shame and pride are obviously obstacles on the road to celebrity for most people.

Normal people probably wouldn't like their most private and precious personal moments and occasions turned into a media feeding frenzy. But clearly for celebrities this is not the case.

It now turns out the 'mom' of Justin's baby could be in serious trouble – he was supposedly under age at the time.  But then, Justin Bieber will still be under age when he's 40, I'm afraid. There's nothing quite like millions depending on your prepubescent image to keep you young.

Could now be the time to ask Kim Kardashian whether she has considered returning her wedding gifts? Seventy-two days. Hell, I've had  bouts of sinusitis that lasted longer than that.

I definitely think there is a place for shame in our society. The least you can do when you have behaved in a less-than-well-thought-through fashion is to retreat from media attention for a few days, try and look as if you feel bad, not grant any interviews and mumble something that can go through for an apology. After that you can do the talk shows, and weep a little on camera.

The moral fabric of our world seems to be disintegrating. But even so, there are still things that are not cool.  Here is a quick guide of stuff you shouldn't appear to be proud of in public (whether you are famous, or not):

  • Stealing other people's money
  • Being caught cheating on your partner
  • Not paying maintenance for your kids
  • Being caught driving drunk/high
  • Getting married and divorced in less time than it takes to do the dishes
  • Lying to your fans/friends until you have no choice but to own up
  • Hitting anyone
  • Being caught having sex with a friend's partner (or with Justin Bieber)
  • Spongeing endlessly on friends and family

I am not saying we should return to the days of ostracising the 'unclean'. But a bit of social discomfort and a bit of public embarrassment could go a long way to making clear what the generally accepted standards in our society are, or should be. Gone are the days of public whipping, or throwing people down wells, or placing them in the stocks.

Sometimes people deserve a bit of the discomfort brought about by being shunned for doing uncool things.

My mind keeps returning to the image of someone having a quickie with Justin Bieber backstage. I'm scared this might eventually bring about post-traumatic stress disorder in me. But then, maybe changing a loaded nappy at 3am may wipe the self-satisfied smirk off our eternal teenager's face. We can but dream. Shame, man.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, November 2011)



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